The No Mean People Rule
In general, I'm not someone who is a huge fan of sets of "rules" for living. Life is complex and rich and having too many rules tends to limit our experience and learning. However, in working with my clients, I've recently come to realize that there IS one rule I both live by and teach over and over again in my daily work.
That rule is simple: No Mean People. It's a rule I follow both in my personal life and in my healing practice. As a result, my practice is a lot smaller than it could be--which is fine with me. I've spent a lot of time considering how much more money I'd make if I was willing to accept rude, belligerent, self-centered people into my business. I'm just not willing to do that because it's out of alignment with the values I both teach and strive to personify. Simply put, it's not worth it to me. Wealth is not only about money; it's about having a rich, safe personal and spiritual life.
Protecting yourself from mean people is something I teach over and over again. I'd say that probably over 90% of the people who come to see me have, or have had, a significant MPP (Mean Person Problem) at some point in their lives. They've followed the Golden Rule and tried to accommodate, be nice, be caring, to understand, to help, and it hasn't worked. The Mean Person in their lives is still mean. So at some point I get a phone call or email and the journey of disengaging from the MPP begins, of learning how to set boundaries, be assertive, state needs, take effective action when disrespect occurs.
At the risk of sounding like an old fogey (which I probably qualify to be anyway) I think the Mean Person Problem has gotten a lot worse during my lifetime because of the widespread use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, forums, text, SMS) to bully and denigrate others. I also think so-called "reality television" is partially to blame because it seems that the worst behaved and most rude people are the ones who get selected to be on these shows. Have you noticed that? I suppose that a reality show with functional people on it wouldn't generate the same ratings. Unfortunately.
At any rate, No Mean People is a great rule for living. It's simple, easy to remember and in support of humanistic values of sharing, caring and communication. The complex part is that if a person has grown up with or around Mean People, there's a lot of confusion about how much to take, what's out of bounds, what needs to be done in response to a mean behavior or mean words. That's where counseling can help out. I'd say that my clients are either people who have had it with a Mean Person or they are seeing Mean Person traits in themselves and want to put a stop to it NOW because they really, really, really don't want to become that person. And I love teaching people about this stuff. Absolutely love it. I suppose that's why I like what I do so much.
So: No Mean People. Take it. Use it. Don't be one. Let me know if I can help.